Former MLB all-star David Nilsson named Australia manager
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) Former Major League Baseball all-star David Nilsson has been named manager of Team Australia as it aims to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Baseball Australia said Wednesday that the former Milwaukee Brewers catcher would lead the team in games at the 2019 Premier 12 tournament, which doubles as the first chance for 2020 Olympic qualification. He could also manage Australia at the 2021 World Baseball Classic.
Nilsson returned to the national team staff as an assistant coach for the 2018 Japan Series after winning three consecutive Australian Baseball League titles with the Brisbane Bandits, who went 86-48 while winning ABL titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The 48-year-old Nilsson says: ”It was really special to get back to international competition, I love the environment and I really missed it.”
Regarded as Australia’s best-ever MLB player, Nilsson finished his MLB career with a .284 batting average, 105 home runs and 470 runs batted in.
He created history in 1999 when he became the first Australian to be named an MLB All-Star after finishing with a .309 batting average in 115 games for the Brewers.
He remains the only position player ever named from Australia for an All-Star Game. Grant Balfour, while with the Oakland A’s, was named as a replacement pitcher for teammate Bartolo Colon in 2013 and is the only other player from Down Under to appear in an All-Star Game.
Nilsson also played for Australia’s Olympic team in 2000 and 2004, when it won silver at the Athens Games.